Bullshit & stupidity from the NY Times

What we’ve come to expect.  This is ignorance and bullshit:

“Pamphlets in the Tea Party bid for a Second American Revolution, the works include .. Friedrich Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” (1944), which argued that a government that intervened in the economy would inevitably intervene in every aspect of its citizens’ lives.”

And this is more ignorance and bullshit:

““the rule of law” .. Hayek’s term for the unwritten code that prohibits the government from interfering with the pursuit of “personal ends and desires.””

Why, oh, why can’t we get educated and non-partisan news reporters who aren’t full of bullshit and ignorance?

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13 Responses to Bullshit & stupidity from the NY Times

  1. Bob D says:

    Greg, Thanks for you efforts in educating the public about Austrian Economics and for our intellectual fire power in support and defense when I nominated Mises, Hayek and Friedman as the most influential economists of the 20th century on a some blog in the past. The reason that the NY Times and others can get away with the PURE BUNK that they push about economics is that most people don’t know anything about economics due to lack of proper educational treatment of the dismal science. The elite have it really good selling people on Keynesian theory because it aids in their looting of the public. If someone is interested in studying economics in college you are confronted with advanced math ( used to elicit desired results ) and most people are incapable, turned off or are forced to accept these techniques in order to become proficient and accepted in the mainstream economics field. Thanks to people like you and others people are starting to understand the scam!

  2. Bob D says:

    (y)our intellectual fire power

  3. Steve J. says:

    This passage is from The Road to Serfdom, page 125:

    Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision. Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance, where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks, the case for the state helping to organise a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong. There are many points of detail where those wishing to preserve the competitive system and those wishing to supersede it by something different will disagree on the details of such schemes; and it is possible under the name of social insurance to introduce measures which tend to make competition more or less ineffective. But there is no incompatibility in principle between the state providing greater security in this way and the preservation of individual freedom.

  4. Alex Heyworth says:

    “Why, oh, why can’t we get educated and non-partisan news reporters who aren’t full of bullshit and ignorance?”

    I guess the simple answer is that economics is seen as too complicated to be understood by most people, and the economists like it that way.

    You may or may not be familiar with a book called “Physics for Future Presidents”. It’s an excellent book that sets out the principles of physics and how they apply in the real world without the complications of all the difficult math. It is the textbook for one of the most popular undergrad courses at UC Berkeley.

    What economics needs is a similar undergrad course that could be taken as part of another degree, that covers the whole field and its applications without the higher math. If it was up to me, the textbook would cover ground similar to Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson” and Hunter Lewis’s “Where Keynes Went Wrong” and “Are the Rich Necessary”.

  5. Greg Ransom says:

    Alex, give Gene Callahan’s _Economics for Real People_ a try:

    http://mises.org/books/econforrealpeople.pdf

  6. Alex Heyworth says:

    Thanks for the suggestion, I have put it on order (I still like real books). The title suggests another possible answer to your question. Reporters aren’t real people.

  7. Victor says:

    Pay attention to the fact that “NYT” won a Pulitzer award that is famous to be awarded to various commies like Walter Duranty, Edmund Setevens. NYT is also known because of Jayson Blair and Judith Miller.

    Pultizer award winning Walter Duranty — the greatest liers of all times was also a NYT journalist.

    Abusing Hayek’s ideas is not the worst thing that NYT has ever done.

  8. John says:

    My reaction to the initial post was Yikes! I need to enquire. I teach World Civ in college and I briefly mention “Road to Serfdom.” My summary of the book is very close to the first quote you provide in this post. And, I’m teaching this as someone who agrees with Hayek. And yet, obviously from what you post here, I’m missing something. Can you clarify? Why is writing: “Friedrich Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” (1944), which argued that a government that intervened in the economy would inevitably intervene in every aspect of its citizens’ lives”” “ignorance and bullshit.”

    Keep in mind that in a course of this kind I can give about 60 seconds to RtS – the Great Depression gets about 15 minutes total.

    Thanks

  9. Greg Ransom says:

    John — the problem here is the weasel word “intervention”. I believe this word in weaselly for a purpose.

    Hayek’s argument is that there is are all sorts of benign forms of “intervention” — in fact the functioning of a market economy and a healthy liberal democracy requires all sorts of “interventions” in the for of rules for coordinating behavior and defending life and property, and doing things that help us to live better lives.

    Hayek’s point is that there are healthy ways to set up these interventions — and there are very unhealthy ways to set up these “interventions”. Interventions need to conform the the demands of the rule of law, they need to be set up so they don’t set up systems of privilege and discrimination that generate feedback loops of patronage and corruption, they need to be modest so that they don’t create coordination problems that demand further interventions that set up a ratchet mechanism of ever greater “intervention” to correct the inevitable failure of past “interventions”.

    Read Hayek’s _Law, Legislation and Liberty_ for further details.

    There is nothing inevitable about what Hayek discusses, and there is no argument against benign “interventions” which conform to democracy, the rule of law, the dictate against systems of special privilege, the dictate to limit coercion as much as possible, etc.

  10. Greg Ransom says:

    Hayek early and late recommends setting up systems of “intervention” that promote healthy competition between rival institutions and rival factions.

    The content in Hayek matters. The bogus slogans mostly seriously distort what Hayek is attempting to communicate. Distortions which are often intentional.

  11. John says:

    Thanks, that makes sense. I wasn’t reading it as closely as I should have. When I mention Hayek, I actually tell my students that while the collectivists of his day were arguing that the economy was so complex it needed expert management, Hayek was arguing that that very complexity made management impossible. I then go on to argue that the state’s attempts to manage financial/economic outcomes inevitably meant interference in personal freedom. To illustrate this I ask them to think about making $100k a year, and then the difference in lifestyle between a 20% tax rate & a 60% tax rate.

    Admittedly, most of this lacks nuance (one of the problems that comes with a World Civ course) but my main goals are to present (1) some kind of argument against statist management/control and (2) to get them thinking that the state’s attempts to control/manage wealth are just as much moral/personal interference as the state’s attempts to control sexuality.

  12. Greg Ransom says:

    This is a great point, one that Arnold Kling at Econlog has recently emphasized:

    “When I mention Hayek, I actually tell my students that while the collectivists of his day were arguing that the economy was so complex it needed expert management, Hayek was arguing that that very complexity made management impossible. “

  13. John says:

    I’ll try to make this my last post on this! The advantage of presenting the idea of management is that I connect to my explanation of the great depression and connect it forward to discussion of post-WWII economic policy by using terms such as free markets vs. managers. That way I can avoid words like liberal, socialist, conservative etc. all of which already carry baggage in the minds of students. Further, by using “manager” I can point out the attempts to manage the economy that come from conservatives such as Nixon and Bush.

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